Russian President Vladimir Putin denied the United States government's allegation that Russian hackers or the country's government were behind American cyberattacks and deflected criticism to the U.S. itself.
"We have been accused of all kinds of things," Putin said during an exclusive interview with NBC News. "Election interference, cyberattacks and so on and so forth. And not once, not once, not one time, did they bother to produce any kind of evidence or proof. Just unfounded accusations."
In April, President Joe Biden's administration blacklisted six Russian technology companies that provide support to a cyber program run by Putin's intelligence services, as well as dozens of other Russia-based individuals and entities, in relation to "carrying out Russian government-directed attempts to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential elections, and other acts of disinformation and interference," NBC News reports.
Putin, who repeated the call for the U.S. and Russia to work together in an effort to fight cybercrime during the interview, also deflected criticism aimed at Russia by claiming all countries acted in their own self-interest and accused the U.S. of taking similar action in Libya, Afghanistan and Syria in relation to global instability.
Putin also referenced the arrests of hundreds of suspects involved in the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot, as well as the death of one participant, as an example of the U.S. targeting citizens for their political opinions, claiming the individuals were arrested for their political opinions rather than inciting violence on the seat of government in Washington.
The comments took place after Putin and Biden met with the leaders of the Group of Seven industrial nations, which Russia was suspended from in 2014 after annexing the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.
U.S.-Russia relations have reached their lowest point in decades due to cyberattacks linked to Moscow, as well as numerous old grievances, including Russia's reported involvement in the 2016 and 2020 U.S. elections.
Putin also denied ordering a hit on political rival Alexei Navalny during the exclusive interview with NBC News, but would not guarantee that Navalny -- who survived being poisoned with a nerve agent -- would make it out of prison alive.
"Look, such decisions in this country are not made by the president," Putin said, adding that Navalny would "not be treated any worse than anybody else."
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